Saturday, December 06, 2008

Syria Trying To Wash Their Hands Clean

Syria Trying To Wash Their Hands Clean (NSI News Source Info) December 7, 2008: The UN is accusing Syria of trying to conceal nuclear weapons development work at four different locations. Syria refuses to allow the UN inspectors to investigate the sites. Syria has signed an international agreement to not develop nuclear weapons, and that treaty allows UN inspectors to double check. Last month, UN nuclear weapons inspectors found traces of processed uranium at the site of a suspected nuclear weapons research center in Syria. Commercial satellite photos of the suspected Syrian nuclear facility, which was bombed by Israel in September, 2007, showed structures that indicated a nuclear research facility was under construction. The Syrians promptly removed the structures, both the ones that were bombed and those left intact, after the Israeli raid. In response to the UN allegations, Syria claimed that Israel had planted the nuclear material their by including it in their bombs. It is also known that North Korean technicians were involved with whatever was going on there, although Syria denied any nuclear work was taking place. Denying that North Koreans were around was difficult, as North Koreans have been seen entering and leaving this area for months. North Korea is believed to be still selling weapons, and possibly nuclear technology, to Syrian mentor Iran.

RG-31 MRAPs Well Tested In Afghanistan

RG-31 MRAPs Well Tested In Afghanistan (NSI News Source Info) December 7, 2008: The U.S. is loaning France a hundred RG-31 (nicknamed Nyala) armored vehicles for the additional French troops being sent to Afghanistan. The RG-31 is a very popular vehicle in Afghanistan, with Britain, Canada, the Netherlands (who borrowed some from Canada) and the United States already using them there. Most of the RG-31s in Afghanistan have special equipment installed, like jammers (to prevent roadside bombs from being detonated via a wireless device) and remotely (from inside the vehicle) operated 12.7mm machine-guns.
There were problems with the installation of the special equipment. The machine-gun system had some software glitches. When the jammer was turned on, most of the RG-31s found that their alternators quickly burned out. These problems were eventually eliminated.
Otherwise, the RG-31s have given good service. Those that have encountered Taliban bombs, provided good protection for their passengers. One RG-31, after getting hit by a powerful roadside bomb, was able to get home under its own power, with a crew that was shaken, but not injured. The RG-31 is a South African vehicle, costing about up to million dollars each (depending on accessories), that was designed to resist landmines and roadside bombs. It was developed from the earlier Mamba armored personnel carrier, and has an excellent track record. The wheeled (4x4) RG-31 weighs eight tons and can carry up to eleven people. Some models, like the RG-31M, usually operates with a crew of five, plus a cargo area in the back.
The RG-31 is a MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected), and is preferred in Afghanistan because the bad roads make it easier for the top heavy MRAPs to flip over. The smaller RG-31 is less prone to this problem. The UN and the United States were the first major users of the vehicle. Although armed only with a .50 caliber machine-gun, the Nyala earns its way by being the first one down roads where mines or roadside bombs may be encountered.
The Nyala is becoming popular with NGOs operating in dangerous areas, as it does not look particularly military (especially if the machine-gun is removed), even though it is definitely a combat ready vehicle in Afghanistan.

Top Gun's Are More In US Air Force

Top Gun's Are More In US Air Force (NSI News Source Info) December 7, 2008: For the first time since the Vietnam war, a U.S. fighter pilot has become an ace (someone who has shot down at least five aircraft). But that's only because a pilot (U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles Cleveland) had a 1952 air-to-air MiG-15 kill over Korea recognized last year. Before Cleveland got recognized, the last pilot, of any air force, to qualify as an ace was Jalal Zandi of the Iranian Air Force, who shot down 14 Iraqi aircraft in the late 1980s, while flying a U.S. made F-14. Zandi may be the last pilot to become an ace, as the next generation of fighters may be robotic, with no human pilot onboard. Meanwhile, American fighters, and their pilots, remain the best in the world. That's not preordained, or an accident, it's the result of a lot of hard work, willingness to learn from mistakes, and a whole lot of money. Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force (and naval air) realize that no one had successfully challenged them for control of the air in over half a century. Dominating the air has its downsides, as American air combat commanders (both Navy and Air Force) worry about future threats, and how well prepared U.S. pilots will be to deal with them. All this has to be considered in light of the fact that shooting down enemy aircraft is not the primary mission of an air force. Aircraft became a factor in military affairs 90 years ago when they demonstrated their superior ability to see what the enemy was up. Most of the use of air power at the beginning was about reconnaissance, and preventing the enemy from seeing what you were doing. Between the world wars, the idea of using air power as an offensive weapon developed. This proved to be more of a factor at sea, than on land, where the reconnaissance was still the most useful service air forces provided. Strategic bombing was greatly misunderstood by air forces during, and after, World War II. Tactical bombing (and strafing) was more useful, because the fighter-bombers were providing reconnaissance at the same time they were attacking the enemy who were in the way of friendly ground troops. The U.S. Air Force, however, was not a big fan of "tac air" (tactical air power), because they believed they could be more decisive with strategic bombing. The problem with World War II strategic bombing was that it was a blunt instrument. A lot of damage was inflicted, but it was, for all practical purposes, random. So while millions of German and Japanese workers were diverted (because they were dead, or had to deal with damage to homes and businesses) from the war effort by the bombing, there was no decisive effect, as the air force generals intended. This was because of a problem the air force had then, and continues to have. It's called BDA (Bomb Damage Assessment). This is the business of figuring out what to bomb, and what the impact on the enemy is after you bomb. The U.S. did a thorough survey, of the impact of strategic bombing on Germany and Japan, right after World War II. It was discovered that the impact of the bombing was far different from what BDA during the war had indicated. But that was largely ignored because, right after the war, it was believed bombing with conventional bombs had become obsolete. Nuclear bombs had made strategic airpower decisive, because pinpoint accuracy was no longer a factor. But during the Korean war (1950-53), it was realized that no one really wanted to use nuclear weapons again, especially if the other side had them. Thus nuclear weapons became a threat, while conventional bombs were again the weapon of choice. But as experience in Korea (1950-3), Vietnam (1965-72), Kuwait (1991) and Kosovo (1999), Iraq (2003) and Lebanon (2006) demonstrated, the enemy on the ground continued to have an edge when it came to deceiving the most energetic BDA efforts. The only proven technique for beating the BDA problem was to have people on the ground, up close, checking up on targets. The U.S. Army and Air Force have developed special equipment and tactics to have teams of Special Forces troops on the ground to do this sort of thing. That's why air power was so successful in Afghanistan in 2001. But the really big breakthrough was the development of cheap smart (guided) bombs. Guided bombs were first developed during World War II, and were quite useful hitting targets at sea and on land. These were radio controlled bombs, that required an operator to use a joystick to guide the bomb to a distant (out of range of defending anti-aircraft fire) target. The Germans were the first to use them in 1943, when they sank a battleship with one. By 1945, American smart bombs were taking down bridges in Asia, and sinking Japanese ships in the Pacific with radio controlled bombs. Because of the belief that nuclear weapons made conventional weapons obsolete, research on smart bombs stopped until, in the late 1950s, everyone came to their senses. By 1965, the U.S. Air Force had a laser guided bomb in service, and was using it to take out heavily defended targets in North Vietnam. These are targets, like bridges, that had resisted numerous attacks with unguided bombs (because of thick anti-aircraft defenses). The first laser guided bombs cost over a million dollars each, and by 1991, the price had come down to under $100,000. That was still a hundred times the cost of a dumb (unguided) bomb. However, in 1991 it was noted that the 'smart bombs' were doing a disproportionate amount of the damage Later in the 1990s, the GPS guided bomb was developed. This was a major breakthrough. The GPS guided bomb was much cheaper (about $25,000 each, as it was actually a guidance kit attached to a dumb bomb). But the GPS bomb did not need someone to shine a laser on the target (for the bomb to home in on). Just punch in the GPS coordinates and drop the bomb. Mist, rain and sand storms could interfere with lasers, but nothing stopped a GPS bomb. Air power was, for once, rally all powerful. There were still BDA problems, but now the air force was more enthusiastic about putting small teams of elite troops on the ground, who could be defended by GPS guided bombs, and eyeball exactly what damage the bombs were causing. That actually happened in Afghanistan, where more than one Special Forces team defeated much larger enemy forces, by calling in GPS guided bombs. Air power still has its limitations, something the professionals understand, but the rest of us don't. This was demonstrated in Lebanon in the Summer of 2006. Everyone, except the people running the Israeli air force, expected Israeli air power to shut down Hezbollah, and the Hezbollah rockets being fired into northern Israel. The Israeli air force spent most of their time taking out economic targets, as they knew that most of the Hezbollah rockets had been hidden in places the Israelis were unaware of. They knew this because they had been watching for six years, as Hezbollah hid their 12,000 or so rockets in hundreds of locations (under schools homes and mosques, in caves or just about anywhere throughout southern and central Lebanon). The Israelis had tried bombing suspected rocket locations many times since the Iranians sent large quantities of these rockets to southern Lebanon after 2000 (when the Israelis abandoned their security zone in southern Lebanon, in return for a peace deal that was supposed to disarm Hezbollah). The Israeli air attacks before 2006 had failed, and the Israelis knew the only way to hunt down the Hezbollah rocket caches was to send ground troops in. But the Israeli government did not want to risk hundreds (or thousands) of dead Israeli troops in a ground campaign with Hezbollah. Israeli voters would not stand for this. Israel tolerated thousands of Hezbollah rockets falling on northern Israel. That's because the rockets were mostly of the 122mm, unguided, variety, and only had a range of twenty kilometers. It took about a hundred of these rockets (and a few larger ones), to kill one Israeli. The Israelis used mostly smart bombs in Lebanon, so they almost always hit what they were aimed at, and caused about one civilian death for every 5-10 bombs or missiles used. Because the Israeli air force is superior to that of any of its neighbors, most Arab nations are investing heavily in missiles. Israel has defenses (Arrow and PAC-3 missiles) against the larger, guided, ballistic missiles. But unguided rockets are such an ineffective weapon, it really doesn't pay to employ a system to knock them down. There is a laser system (SkyGuard), developed by U.S. and Israeli firms, that can stop these unguided weapons. But it would cost a billion dollars to install it along the Lebanese border. At the moment, SkyGuard is under consideration to protect U.S. airports from portable anti-aircraft missiles. Meanwhile, air power continues to change, as unmanned, and often robotic, aircraft are replacing those with crews. The UAVs (Unmanned aerial vehicles) have been around for over half a century (as cruise missiles), and in that time they have become a lot cheaper and reliable. UAVs now do most of the reconnaissance work, and will begin replacing fighters and bombers in the next decade or so. Without being recognized as such, smart bombs and UAVs are the most revolutionary developments in air power since World War II. Air power will never be the same because of these two innovations. Just as things were never the same as the U.S. began its long run as ruler of the skies in 1944.

Chechnya Still Hot Bed For Militants

Chechnya Still Hot Bed For Militants (NSI News Source Info) December 7, 2008: Russia is frustrated that they still have problems with terrorists in Chechnya, and their half of the Caucasus in general (the rest is occupied by Georgia, Armenia and Azerjiaban). But they also realize that outlaw behavior has been endemic to the region for centuries, especially among the Chechens.
The region is similar to Afghanistan, in that for thousands of years survival was a matter of hiding (from armies moving between the Middle East and the great plans of Eurasia) in the mountain valleys, depending on clan organizations for survival, and doing whatever it took to make a living.
Russia has controlled the region for nearly two centuries now, so the Chechens have developed new traditions that are based on ripping off the Russians. This always made the Russians nervous, because the Chechens were quite good at conning the czar's officials, and their communist successors, and the Russians never came up with a way to avoid being taken advantage of. Russia tried to walk away from Chechnya in the early 1990s, after an uprising there proved too difficult for Russian troops to put down. But that just enabled Chechnya, which quickly fell under the rule of a coalition of clan based criminal gangs, to become gangster central for the region. Chechen gangsters lived large via smuggling, robbery and kidnapping. The Russians came back in 1999, after the Chechen crime wave, along with a Chechen Islamic radicals, caused a growing public outcry throughout the Caucasus and southern Russia.
Using their usual overwhelming force, the Russians regained control of Chechnya. As was their custom, they appointed the most powerful and reliable clan to run the place, and hoped for the best.
But passing out jobs and other goodies to the most pro-Russian clans didn't stop the majority of Chechens from trying to make a living the traditional way (from anyone who didn't belong to their clan, especially non-Chechens). Attacking the Russians, and the pro-Russian clans, was still a favorite activity. With legitimate jobs hard to come by (the official unemployment rate is over 50 percent), and a long tradition of improvising, and ignoring laws and rules, the Russians have peace with the Chechens (by local standards) but not much order. Violence and intimidation are still the most common forms of communication between the clans. The Russians are reluctant to pull out the non-Chechen police (Interior Ministry troops) and soldiers, because of the risk of Chechnya once again becoming gangster central. While the media likes to play up "terrorism in Chechnya," the main problem is that the Chechens have always been difficult to rule, much less control. This "Chechen Problem" has been on Russia's agenda since the 18th century, and nothing has really worked. Even Stalin deporting most of the population to Central Asia during World War II (when it was feared the approaching Nazis would find welcome allies among the Chechens) didn't fix the problem.
This merely gave Chechens opportunities (usually criminal) throughout Russia. A decade later, the Chechens were allowed to return to Chechnya, where they did not get along with the Russians, and others, who replaced them after the removal. Chechnya is not a new problem, it's an old one that won't go away.

US Wants Four Ex-ISI Officials Declared Terrorists

US Wants Four Ex-ISI Officials Declared Terrorists (NSI News Source Info) Source; The News By Ansar Abbasi, ISLAMABAD - December 6, 2008: The US has given four names of former ISI officials, including Lt-Gen (retd) Hameed Gul, to the UN Security Council to put them on the list of international terrorists.
Government of Pakistan is aware of this move, which is considered here by some as part of an international conspiracy to target the ISI, whose reformation has already been sought by Washington.
The US embassy in Islamabad claims to be completely unaware of this move while the foreign office spokesman also did not come up with any explanation on the matter despite being approached on Tuesday.
However, Lt-Gen (retd) Hameed Gul confirmed to this correspondent that he was included in the list of those four or five former ISI officials whose names had been provided to the UN secretary-general by the US government to be included in the list of international terrorists.
Gul admitted that he had already met the foreign affairs secretary to discuss the issue. A Foreign Office source also told this correspondent that the issue had already been referred to the prime minister’s office but despite the lapse of a few weeks, no decision had been taken by the government so far. It is not clear whether or not Islamabad wants to pursue intense lobbying to stop this thing to happen.
A diplomatic source in Washington, however, told this correspondent that it would not be easy for the United States to get all these names enlisted in the list of terrorists because it would require the consent of the all the five permanent members of the Security Council.
Foreign Office spokesman Muhammad Sadiq was contacted on Tuesday to give its response on the matter but The News has not heard anything from his side till the filing of this report on Wednesday night. Off the cuff, Sadiq said he had heard or read about this but was not sure about the case.
The Pakistan embassy in Washington is not in the know of this move. Pak envoy to US Hussain Haqqani, when contacted, said he had no comment to offer as no such thing was routed through the Pakistani embassy.
However, another diplomatic source there confided to this correspondent that the US State Department had formally conveyed to the UN Security Council four to five names of former ISI officials, including Lt-Gen (retd) Hamid Gul, for inclusion in the list of international terrorists under Resolution 1267 of the Security Council.In such a situation, those enlisted in this list of bad guys will be prevented from travelling outside the country of their residence while their assets would also be monitored and even frozen at times.
Lou Fintor, the US embassy spokesman, when contacted also said the embassy did not know anything about this. He said if this was true, then such a thing would have been dealt by the State Department and taken up directly with the UN there in Washington.
Lt-Gen (retd) Hameed Gul, however, admitted that he was aware of the move but was not sure if the prime minister had taken a decision on the issue. Believing that this is a move to target the ISI, he warned if the government of Pakistan did not protect him and others on the recommended list of terrorists, he would directly write to the UN secretary-general.
He said the government should immediately move to protect the ISI from this indirect attack from Washington. He said the United States and some other Western nations were against him for the simple reason that he did not support their war on terror which, he said, was based on Washington’s greed for energy.
He said the US and its allies in the war on terror had turned the world upside down and had made it far more dangerous than what it was before. He volunteered to present himself before any neutral enquiry commission. He said he also had the option to go to the country’s court of law but hastily added that he did not have trust in Pakistan’s judiciary.
When asked how he had come to know about this, he said, he was informed of this by a highly responsible person, who had personally seen the written US request. He hoped the government would not show callousness towards its own individuals and institutions like the ISI which, he admitted, was the first line of the country’s defence. Therefore, he must be protected from any external onslaught.
Additional Info: Related Topic
Hameed Gul, Qureshi discuss US move regarding ISI (NSI News Source Info) By Ansar Abbasi, ISLAMABAD - December 6, 2008: Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi has met Lt-Gen (retd) Hameed Gul and assured him that the government would seriously look into the issue of Washington’s move to include the names of ex-ISI officials in the list of international terrorist through UN’s Security Council.
Though the foreign minister was not available for comments, a source revealed that the two had also discussed the idea of convening an immediate session of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) where Russia and China should be invited as observers to discuss the challenges confronting Pakistan, including the latest anti-Pakistan and anti-ISI campaign launched by India after the recent Mumbai attack.
General Gul, when contacted, confirmed that the issue of immediate convening of the OIC meeting was discussed. He said that he suggested it to the foreign minister that such a diplomatic initiative on behalf of Pakistan would help neutralise the atmosphere in favour of Pakistan. "It is the government's responsibility to take serious view of this situation," he told The News on the issue Washington's ISI-specific move. Gen Gul's name is said to on top of the US's sponsored recommended list of international terrorist for being former chief of the ISI and an outspoken critic of the US policies and its controversial war on terror. Gul said he told the minister that it is the prime responsibility of the government to defend its individuals as well as the institutions from those foreign powers, which are hell-bent to destroy the countryís institutions like the ISI and Pakistan Army.
Gul said the enemies of Pakistan are presently targeting the ISI to weaken the institution of Pakistan Army and to attain the ultimate objective of de-nuclearising this only Muslim nuclear state in the world.
Gen Gul said Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi assured him that the government would seriously look into the matter and take appropriate measures. The United States has recently sought from the UN Security Council the inclusion of the names of five ex-ISI officials, including the name of Lt Gen (retd) Hameed Gul to put them on the list of international terrorists.

Iraqi Forces Converting From AK-47s To M-16 Assault Rifles

Iraqi Forces Converting From AK-47s To M-16 Assault Rifles (NSI News Source Info) December 6, 2008: American troops are slowly helping Iraqi forces convert from Russian designed AK-47s to American M-16 and M-4 assault rifles. The process involves taking one Iraqi brigade at a time and putting the troops through a 21 day course on how to use the M-16. The training involves a lot of time spent on marksmanship, as well as the need for keeping the M-16/M-4 clean. Neither marksmanship or weapon maintenance have ever been major priorities in the Iraqi army.
Iraqi soldiers armed with the US made M-16 assault rifle stand guard in front of the main Sunni mosque in Baghdad, Abu Hanifa, in the predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah. The US military started supplying some of the Iraqi army units with American made weapons recently Over the next five years, Iraqi security forces will be replacing all of their AK-47s with U.S. M-16 and M-4 assault rifles. In the last two years, the Iraqis have received 235,000 M-16 and M-4 rifles, but most have not been distributed yet. So far, only the more elite commando and SWAT units have received the American rifles, in addition to a few infantry brigades. Marksmanship and cleaning issues aside, Iraqis like the M-4 because it is two pounds lighter than the AK-47. This is a big deal for Iraqis, who tend to be smaller than U.S. troops, and also get worn down by the heat.
The M-16 and M-4 also have less recoil than the AK-47. This, and the better inherent accuracy of the M-16, make many Iraqi troops believers in single aimed shots. With the AK-47, the favorite firing mode was "spray and pray" (poorly aimed full automatic fire, which can empty an AK-47 magazine in a few seconds). Many Iraqi troops are not keen on getting the M-16. They know it is more accurate, and that they are getting more target practice to improve their shooting skills. But the M-16 requires more maintenance. You have to clean it a lot. The less accurate AK-47 was much more tolerant when it came to sand and dust.
However, Iraqi NCOs and junior officers tend to prefer the M-16 for its lighter weight, and lighter ammo. The M-16 ammo weighs more than a third less than AK-47 rounds. That extra accuracy and ammo can be a lifesaver in combat.
Iraqi NCOs also note that the U.S. troops manage to keep their weapons clean, and believe that Iraqis can be trained to be as diligent. Iraqis may differ on whether U.S. troops should be in the country, but all agree that the Americans are formidable warriors. Increasingly, Iraqi troops are wearing similar combat uniforms and driving hummers. The Iraqi soldiers consciously copy their U.S. counterparts. This includes handling their weapons, and moving, in a similar fashion.
But it isn't all superficial imitation. The Iraqis stand and fight now. U.S. troops, back in Iraq after having been away for a year or so, are pleasantly surprised to find, when called to reinforce an Iraqi unit (like a checkpoint, or a police station) under fire, that the Iraqis are now fighting harder and smarter. In the past, the U.S. troops would often show up to find the Iraqi troops or police had fled. With so many Iraqi units equipped with M-16s, and wearing similar uniforms, it's often hard to tell Iraqis and Americans apart. This has led to situations where, in the thick of combat, a U.S. NCO goes up to a soldier and yells an order in English, which results in an Iraqi soldier. Who only speaks Arabic, turning around and giving the U.S. sergeant a puzzled look.

Chad: Lack Of EU Peacekeepers, Bandits Have Heyday

Chad: Lack Of EU Peacekeepers, Bandits Have Heyday (NSI News Source Info) December 6, 2008: Since the 3,700 EU peacekeepers can only cover about half the refugee camps in eastern Chad (containing nearly half a million Sudanese and Chadian refugees), the bandits have figured out which camps are vulnerable, and concentrated on looting and robbing in those areas. French European Union Force (EUFOR) soldiers are seen on patrol on June 28, 2008 close to Frachana in eastern Chad. The EU peacekeeping force has been deployed in the volatile east of the African state to protect the local population and refugee camps against attacks from different tribal militias in the area
NGOs are prime targets, and some of these medical and food relief operations have been shut down until government or EU forces can move in to make it temporarily safe. So far this year, there have been 10-20 attacks on NGO personnel a month. The UN is calling for an UN force of 6,000 peacekeepers to replace the EU troops, but no one is eager to send their soldiers to such a remote and hostile place. The biggest problem any peacekeepers face is the gangs of bandits and Darfur rebels who live off the camps. There are dozens of these groups, and some of them contain a hundred or more armed men. The principal Darfur rebel group, JEM, often keeps family members in Chad refugee camps, and think nothing of coming by, gun in hand, for a visit. This is a true frontier area, beyond the law, and full of characters, carrying guns and willing to kill if pushed. JEM, and the bandits, also recruit in the camps. For a teenage guy, the prospect of getting a gun, and with it the license to kill and steal, is appealing. The risks are ignored by many people that age, and that makes the recruiters job a lot easier. Chad and Sudan are now at peace, so there are no major military operations along the border. But it's a big border, and any peacekeepers in Eastern Chad are but a few ink spots on a huge canvas (over 300,000 square kilometers) that is the border region with Sudan. The 1,500 kilometer long frontier is mostly desert and brush, with the refugees in twelve major camps, and many more smaller, and often improvised ones. The peacekeepers have to devote considerable resources to defending themselves, and their own bases. The local bandits know the terrain, and give the peacekeepers a wide berth.
The UN is determined to get food and medical aid to the refugees, and the bandits are determined to steal as much of this aid as they can. Only the peacekeepers, and occasionally the Chadian security forces (who often go rogue and steal themselves), can put a dent in the theft. The UN has to pay an increasingly larger portion of the aid money to hire locals as security guards, or just give the money to local warlords to purchase "protection."

India Signs Contracts For 80 MI-17 Choppers With Russia

India Signs Contracts For 80 MI-17 Choppers With Russia (NSI News Source Info) December 6, 2008: In a boost to the sagging defence relationship between India and Russia, the two nations today signed a contract for supply of 80 MI-17V-5 medium lift helicopters for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Valued at USD one billion, the agreement between the two sides comes at a time when New Delhi and Moscow are squabbling over several defence related deals signed earlier such as the escalating costs of Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier refit and the technology transfer for the T-90 tanks.However, they agreed to move ahead and resolve all contentious issues in military cooperation, including the Russian demand for additional USD 2 billion dollars for the repair and refit of Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier and the sharing of technical knowhow for the T-90s.
The MI-17 deal had been clinched just before Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev's state visit here during a meeting of the High Level Monitoring Committee headed by Defence Secretary Vijay Singh and Russian Federal Service for Military Technical Cooperation Director Mikhail Dmitriev here on Tuesday.
The Cabinet Committee on Security too had given its go-ahead to acquisition of the helicopters at its meeting on Wednesday.The helicopter contract was signed here by Defence Ministry's Director General (Acquisitions) Sashi Kant Sharma and Rosoboronexport Director General A P Isaykin after the officials talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Medvedev.

Iraq Today....December, 2008

Iraq Today....December, 2008
December 6, 2008 News Source Info (NSI)
A U.S. military officer (R) of the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division briefs his platoon before a meeting with Iraqi military officers and local tribal leaders in the Hurriya district northwest of Baghdad December 3, 2008. U.S. military officers asked local tribal leaders to convince Sunni refugees who fled their homes due to sectarian violence to return to their area, during a meeting in a mosque on Wednesday, a local government official said.Soldiers from Czech Republic stand at attention during an end of mission ceremony at a U.S. military camp in Taji, 20 km (12 miles) north of Baghdad, December 4, 2008. Czech soldiers trained Iraqi soldiers in maintenance and service of Iraqi T-72 tanks and BVP-1 infantry fighting vehicles at the Armor School in a U.S. military camp in Taji as part of their mission in Iraq, a U.S. military officer said.South Korean soldiers salute during their end of mission ceremony in their military camp in Arbil, 310 km (190 miles) north of Baghdad, December 1, 2008.

Su-30MKI Voted Best Fighter

Su-30MKI Voted Best Fighter
(NSI News Source Info) December 6, 2008: In July-August 2008 an Indian air force contingent with eight Sukhoi Su-30MKI combat aircraft participated in the international RED FLAG `08 advanced aerial combat training exercise in Nevada, USA, along with fighters from U.S. and French Air Force. It was the first time that the Russian-made Su-30MKI participated in multinational manoeuvres involving US and other NATO fighters.
The exercise results are widely discussed in the world aerospace media. In November 2008 the British Flight magazine offered their website visitors to pick the best fighter from the listed Su-30MKI, F-22 and F-15.
Indian Su-30MKI during RED FLAG exercise. It is the first time the Indian air force has ever participated at RED FLAG or deployed this aircraft to the United States
Russian fighter was voted the best by 59% of visitors. American 5th-generation F-22 got 37% of votes. The USAF base fighter F-15 was favoured by only 4% of respondents.
Well-deserved success of the Su-30MKI is endorsed by its outstanding flight performance and combat abilities, Irkut said. It became the first serially produced fighter in the world to sport super-manoeuvrability, as well as the first Russian combat aircraft exported with the ESA radar. The Su-30MKI development is the result of cooperation between Irkut that initiated and led the project, Sukhoi Design Bureau and other Russian and Indian enterprises.
"The Indian airmen played an important role in defining the aircraft configuration by ordering the fighter to surpass any known combat aircraft at that moment," said an Irkut spokesman. The renowned Su-30MKI family fighters account for over 15% of Russia’s armament export. According to an Irkut spokesman the company is implementing a number of contracts for the Su-30 MKI with a delivery value of some $5 billion (€3.9 billion).
The Indian Air Force ordered about 250 of these aircraft; 150 of them are already delivered. Irkut also supplies technical kits for their licensed assembling to India’s major aircraft manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
Recently, the Malaysian and Algerian Air Force also order fighters based on the Su-30MKI configuration. A number of other countries consider procuring the Su-30MKIs.
"Joint work on the Su-30MKI is a brilliant example of India’s ability to invest in increasing a particular aircraft’s potential by using indigenous technologies and know-how first and foremost in the avionics domain. While implementing this project we have proceeded from the aircraft direct supplies and their license production/hi-tech transfer to the virtual cooperation, " said Oleg Demchenko, President of Irkut.

German Army Commissions First Spy Satellite

German Army Commissions First Spy Satellite (NSI News Source Info) December 6, 2008: The German military commissioned its first spy-in-the-sky satellite system on Thursday, Dec. 4 enabling it to peek through clouds or the darkness of night at any spot on the planet.
The synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) system uses five satellites that bounce radar pulses off the earth. Sophisticated computers convert the returning signals into a picture of the ground that can resolve features just 50 centimeters in width.
Germany is to share the data with France, which operates Helios II military satellites that photograph the ground in the daytime. The 350-million-euro ($445-million) German system, code- named SAR-Lupe, became operational in the summer and was officially handed over to the military Thursday by the builders, OHB System.
The ground station is in the town of Grafschaft. Defense officials said Germany will be able to take radar pictures of any place at about 10 hours' notice, the time it takes for a satellite to arrive overhead and for the picture to be compiled.
Vice Admiral Wolfram Kuehn, deputy chief of the armed forces, said the system meant Germany no longer needed to depend on US data. "The Kosovo conflict in 1999 demonstrated to us how important it was to have your own worldwide reconnaissance capability," he said.
The military could have also used such as system with its troops in Afghanistan or while assisting victims of the December 2003 Indian Ocean tsunami.
Radar pictures are not as fine-grained as photography from space, which clearly shows people and pets, as users of map websites know.
However, radar is the best solution in night-time or rainy conditions over the target area.

British Commandos Lead Kandahar Helicopter Assault

British Commandos Lead Kandahar Helicopter Assault (NSI News Source Info) December 6, 2008: Royal Marines have pushed deeper into southern Afghanistan's rural Kandahar province with a helicopter assault directly onto insurgent positions, supporting a wider Canadian initiative to redraw the boundaries of ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) influence in the region.
Instead of employing conventional tactics of moving in from secured flank areas, Operation Janubi Tapu (Southern Vulture) has seen the Royal Marines of 42 Commando Group inserted by a number of helicopter waves straight into an area that has been regarded by the insurgents as a safe haven.
Once landed, the Marines used intelligence leads to immediately focus their attention on compounds of interest within the rural conurbations and moved sensitively amongst the local population, searching for insurgent weapons and improvised explosive device-making equipment.
After some rapid engagements with insurgents, the Marines established a dominating presence and blocked further insurgent movement enabling them to carry on conducting searches.
This resulted in finding a vast amount of bomb-making material and weaponry, which subsequently led to a huge degree of exploitable information and intelligence on the insurgents' capability across the whole of southern Afghanistan, not just Kandahar province.
Over 600kg of home-made explosives and 3.8km of wire used for improvised explosive device initiation was seized, along with numerous mines, small arms and ammunition, all of which has now been removed from the area or destroyed.
Throughout the operation the commandos kept the upper hand through rapid helicopter manoeuvre and night infiltration.
And the following day a motorbike-borne suicide bomber was apprehended by the marines before he was able to detonate.
The Commanding Officer of 42 Commando Group, Lieutenant Colonel Charlie Stickland RM, said: "We sought to use true commando tactics on this operation using a helicopter assault and light, agile forces to land into the heart of the insurgents' safe haven.
I wanted to completely change the dynamics in the key area, and through rapid manoeuvre and the robust but culturally sensitive approach of the marines, we achieved our aim. "Each time he took us on he lost; we detained some significant players with a supporting evidential chain and removed a huge quantity of munitions from the battlefield. Importantly, we also left the area having placed constant doubt in the insurgents' mind and reassured the locals that ISAF forces are fair, honest and targeted in what we do. An outstanding operation by the 'smiley boys' of 42 Commando Group."
42 Commando Group have been in Afghanistan for two-and-a-half months and are deployed as Regional Battle Group (South), working directly for the Regional Command (South) HQ in Kandahar.
They are working on a rotation basis with other national contingents within ISAF in different areas of southern Afghanistan, as ISAF continues to push out its sphere of influence into new territory and has already worked with the Canadian, Dutch, and American contingents, on operations spread across a vast spectrum.
Tasks range from clearing insurgent safe havens to assisting in delivery of voter registration and humanitarian relief before winter. They are often the first ISAF forces local people have encountered.
By descending rapidly into the local villages and engaging immediately with the population in a culturally sensitive manner the commandos have created a first impression and a space in which to operate which has allowed freedom of movement to search for and confront the insurgent threat, allowing reconstruction and development to be pushed forward.

S. Korean Navy Commissions Second U-214 Submarine

S. Korean Navy Commissions Second U-214 Submarine
(NSI News Source Info) December 6, 2008: On 28th November 2008 the Korean shipyard Hyundai Heavy Industries Ltd. Co delivered within the agreed time the second of three Class 214 submarines to the national procurement agency DAPA. Thereupon, the South Korean Navy took over command of “Yung Yi” on 2nd December 2008. The boat is equipped with an air-independent fuel cell propulsion system.
The design and major components of the submarine were provided by the Kiel shipyard Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW), a company of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. The Class 214 submarines for South Korea are being built under licence from HDW at the Hyundai Heavy Industries Ltd. Co. shipyard in Ulsan (South Korea).
The new submarine has a displacement of approximately 1,700 tons, is 65 metres long and operated by a regular crew of 27 men. It has a combined diesel-electric and fuel cell propulsion system. Equipped with ultra-modern sensors and an integrated Command and Weapon Control System, it is optimally suited to its future reconnaissance and surveillance tasks.
Beside Germany and Italy, South Korea is the third country operating submarines with the revolutionary HDW fuel cell propulsion system.
ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems AG, with its head office in Hamburg, Germany, is part of ThyssenKrupp Technologies AG within the ThyssenKrupp Group. With its technological competence, extensive portfolio and continuous innovations the corporate group, being the umbrella organisation for shipyards in Germany, Sweden and Greece and various marine engineering companies, represents one of the leading systems houses in European shipbuilding.